359

Ralph Towner / Paolo Fesu: Chiaroscuro

By

Sign in to view read count
Ralph Towner / Paolo Fesu: Chiaroscuro In a stuffed, empty room, rays of moonlight spill through a cobwebbed window and come licking a tired hardwood floor to the feet of an old, stiff chair. On it, the silhouette of a guitar; its strings, silent. At its side, a second chair with an embossed trumpet planted alongside a lonely music stand completes the tableau. Music was made in this imaginary place. But the tones have since vanished in the still air, leaving a feeling of nostalgia and of deep solitude. Moments before, two artists deeply lost in concentration—acoustic guitarist Ralph Towner and trumpeter Paolo Fresu—painted soundscapes so penetrating that even light particles convened into joyful rounds. Chiaroscuro, where light dances in the darkness.

The music they created took control of their bodies, uncontrollable like a cold-water stream yet evanescent like a summer thought. Its energy so strong it almost made their hands falter. Swept by invisible waves, lost in a sea of acute sensations; a feeling akin to an out-of-body experience. Crystallized in his concept of "flow," this state of being described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one these two master musicians know all too well.

Towner has presumably experienced flow countless times while going head-to-head with his music, alone on the big, empty stage. Captured in stellar ECM recordings like Solo Concert ( 1980), Anthem ( 2001) and Time Line ( 2006), these documents serve as witnesses to his superior musicianship and ability at getting deep into the music. A capable player in his own right, Fresu also knows, first-hand, the tranquil force of these momentous experiences. Like the seamen of his native Sardinia, he has learned to connect and make one with the ocean's perpetual chant. Be it immersed in Spanish mime Joan Miguell's choreographies, guitarist Nguyen Le cross-cultural constructs or in his own projects, the trumpeter has repeatedly demonstrated he can paint in music what is invisible to the eye. It should come, then, as a surprise to no one to see the two team up under the amicable auspices of Manfred Eicher's company.

Chiaroscuro is a beautiful recording, the kind that calls for listeners to solemnly bow their heads and get lost in its sounds. The aptly-titled "Sacred Place," for example, is one of many pieces that carry into its conduct something profoundly solemn, something of seraphic beauty. "Wistful Thinking," with its cascading motives and delicately arpeggiated harmonies, is another composition most fitting to the meditative aura instilled by Towner's coruscating finger-picking and Fresu's velvety breath. And, the ebb and flow of Miles Davis "Blue In Green" not only evokes the late trumpeter's musings, but the impressionistic chording of his choice pianist, Bill Evans.

Alas, the pleasure only lasts for 44 minutes. But, scarcity is a good thing. Records like Chiaroscuro are rare and are to be cherished.

Track Listing: Wistful Thinking; Punta Giara; Chiaroscuro; Sacred Place; Blue in Green; Doubled Up; Zephyr; Sacred Place (reprise); Two Miniatures; Postlude.

Personnel: Ralph Towner: classical, 12-string and baritone guitars; Paolo Fresu: trumpet, flugelhorn.

Title: Chiaroscuro | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Lantern CD/LP/Track Review Lantern
by John Kelman
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Unification CD/LP/Track Review Unification
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Crossing CD/LP/Track Review Crossing
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 25, 2017
Read Unit[e] CD/LP/Track Review Unit[e]
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 25, 2017
Read "Cada Fuego Es El Primero" CD/LP/Track Review Cada Fuego Es El Primero
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Lea Áigi" CD/LP/Track Review Lea Áigi
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Infinitude" CD/LP/Track Review Infinitude
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4" CD/LP/Track Review Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Deep Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Deep Memory
by John Sharpe
Published: December 22, 2016
Read "Meditation / Resurrection" CD/LP/Track Review Meditation / Resurrection
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.